India

Indian Shopkeepers Protest Plan to Open Nation's Markets

Foreign supermarkets, investors will be allowed in retail sector

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Shops and markets were closed and traders stopped trains in parts of India on Thursday in protests against federal reforms to open the nation's $500 billion retail sector to global supermarket chains.

In New Delhi, traders marched through the streets, shouting "no FDI in retail" slogans, a reference to foreign direct investment. The protests are a backlash against the Indian government's announcement last week allowing foreign retailers to own a 51% stake in joint ventures in India, which is Asia's third-largest economy.

Major markets in several Indian cities were closed in the one-day strike, backed by opposition parties and allies of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's government who support them. Protesters were also opposing recent fuel price increases and caps on kitchen gas canister supplies.